Obama and wife Michelle at White House Hannukah party 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – The list of Obama campaign national co-chairs released Wednesday
includes several prominent Jewish supporters, including Rahm Emanuel, former
White House chief of staff and current Chicago mayor, and Penny Pritzker, heir
to the Hyatt hotel dynasty.
The 35 named co-chairs also include Jewish
politicians Colorado Senator Michael Bennett, Illinois Representative Jan
Schakowsky and former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, as well as businessman
Marc Benioff and Alan Solow, former chair of the Conference of Presidents of
Major Jewish Organizations.
Solow, who was a member of Obama’s national
finance committee in the 2008 race, said his new role “involves making sure that
the American electorate, including the Jewish community, is aware of the
president’s accomplishments during the first term.”
accomplishments he included strong support for Israel, ensuring Israel maintains
its qualitative military edge and a smart policy on Iran.
Troy, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and an advisor to the Romney
campaign, said he wasn’t surprised by the names on Obama’s list, but questioned
the decision of prominent members of the Jewish community to support Obama after
what he described as “three pretty frosty years” of US-Israel
“We can expect more of the same despite his campaign hiatus,”
Troy said, referring to Obama’s recent “charm offensive” on Israel.
characterized the overall composition of campaign co-chairs as a “standard
Democratic coalition list,” though it does include one former Republican, Rhode
Island Governor Lincoln Chafee, now an Independent.
Though many in the
pro- Israel community criticized the positions of Chafee’s father John, who once
served as a Rhode Island senator, Troy said he could not recall any problematic
stances taken by the governor.
He also said that while some of the
political figures listed, such as Schakowsky, are “clearly to the left” of his
own stance on Israel, “I don’t look at this list and think it’s an anti-Israel
Doug Bloomfield, who once worked as a legislative director for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee
, said that Schakowsky and the other
co-chairs from Illinois had deep roots in the Jewish community
“They’re not people who happen to be Jewish,” he said. “These are
people who care about the Jewish community.”
“Not only does the president
have strong relationships with the community, but the reverse is true,” said
Solow, a Chicago native who knows Obama from his campaign for the Illinois state
senate. “Everybody on this list is undertaking the job with a great deal of
enthusiasm because we know this man and what he stands for.”